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Perk's Finest and More From a Monkey-Off-Back Win

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Full disclosure: My optimism regarding Kendrick Perkins has long been cautious at best.

Though he has had by far the best season of his career, his play largely continues to leave me underwhelmed with regularity, and there have been a few recurring complaints on this end.

But the previous sentence is the last you will hear of those complaints today.  Because this isn't the time or the place.

That's because last night, the usual complaints weren't pertinent.  At all.

In the Celtics' first road win of the 2008 postseason, Kendrick Perkins did everything asked of him -- and a few things that I couldn't have imagined asking of him.

For a night, Perk was as wonderful a defensive and rebounding stalwart as possible.  He was consistently in good position defensively, rotating fluidly and sliding to the spot correctly.  On the interior, he altered shots with regularity, and the ease with which he moved on switches on the perimeter belied his usual lack of lateral quickness.  He had one excellently timed block shot and one picture-perfect steal off the dribble from Chauncey Billups after what looked to be an unfortunate switch at the top of the key.  So it was -- for Detroit.

Perk earned his ten boards, too.  They weren't merely results of being in the right place at the right time while the rest of the team boxed out.  He routinely got position and rose up in traffic to grab the ball or to tip it away from the white jerseys and into his own hands or those of a teammate.

The true surprise, of course, came on the offensive end.  Perk had an excellently efficient 6-for-7 performance, and perhaps even more impressively, he didn't turn the ball over once.  There was one perfectly executed tip-in and two shots that Celtics fans probably cringed to see Perk take in the first place.  But when it's your night, it's your night.  Perk managed to pound the ball for a few seconds and bang a  baby jumper over Rasheed Wallace in the post, and he drained one from mid-range on the left-side baseline.  Two classic "No-no-no-no-yes!" plays.  Celts fans will certainly take 'em.

So here's to you, Perk: for coming up nothing short of huge in the ultimate monkey-off-the-back victory.

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All of Steve's daily posts can be found in the CelticsBlog: NBA blog.  Check him out! 

Assorted quickie thoughts from Game 3:

  • Welcome back, James Posey!  He has had a couple of rough outings of late but seemed to have it all going last night, particularly on the offensive end.  As Jeff Van Gundy pointed out on ABC, we saw some unusual components of Posey's arsenal.  He drew a couple of fouls by attacking the rim and earned himself another trip to the charity stripe with a beautiful ball-fake to draw contact in the left corner.  His eight attempts from the foul line placed him second on the team to Kevin Garnett for the evening.  The two foul shots and a trey from the corner were huge in helping the Celtics re-open the game towards the end of the first quarter as well.  Very solid 12-point effort from the reserve forward.
  • P.J. Brown keeps sucking me in more and more every game.  This is the true definition of a 'cagey veteran.'  Since shaking off some initial rust at the beginning of his Beantown tenure, this guy just seems to do everything right.  He rotates correctly on the defensive end and works hard on the boards, and he has been surprisingly capable of providing some offense (usually from mid-range) from time to time as well.  This time around, he had a big block, two offensive rebounds to keep possessions alive and one beautifully entertaining job of pulling the chair out on Rasheed Wallace on defense in the low post.  This guy makes Danny Ainge look smarter with each passing day.
  • Kudos to the Infuriated Infant.  He played just six minutes and didn't fill up the stat sheet by any means, but he added his usual energy and moved as well defensively as we've seen from him all year.  Great job of sliding to the spot and making sure he was in the right places at the right time on the low blocks.  Two big foul shots when the game got tight in the first quarter didn't hurt either.
  • Overall, it was an excellent defensive performance.  The Celts held Detroit under 40 percent from the field and really seemed to strangle Tayshaun Prince in particular.  The green still needs to be wary of committing silly fouls and sending this team to the line too easily (and Rodney Stuckey in general), but it was still a largely dominant showing.
  • Great work from the charity stripe.  The team shot 30 free throws, and seven players made their way to the line, none of whom missed more than one freebie.  That's the way it should be.
Two wins from the Finals.  Two wins, folks.  Hope you're all enjoying the ride.